Archive | 9:49 pm

3 a.m.

11 Nov

from July 16, 2007

             Why am I doing this at 3 am? First off, I get a lot of typos when I write this late and/or early, take your pick, so I get good at using the delete key. Secondly, summer must really agree with me because I’m sleeping late, going to bed late, and generally fucking up my biological clock so this seems like noon right now. Except for the vague fuzziness when I try to think hard I feel fine. Sort of a low grade Mr. Know-It-All sort of feeling, if you get what I’m going for here. (And you probably don’t since maybe I’m making too much sense. Here is what I mean: I feel fuzzy and slightly wooly in the head since I am mentally tired (but not physically- oh damn, here I get into the parentheses thing again. You (the readers) must hate that. Shit I did it again. Sorry. Give me a few lines to write my  way back out.) Anyway, I feel slightly hung over, which I am not. At all. But Mr. Know-It-All is drunk, hung over, whatever all the time. Hence, feeling as I do, (Heh heh, “hence.”) ( Sorry about the parentheses.) I must feel about a tenth as bad as I imagine that guy feels all the time.)  And that must have made some sense, right? That’s the third good thing about doing this so late and/or early, take your pick- any typos, nonsense, at least not the intentional nonsense, or errors in judgment/common sense/syntax will be blamed on the lateness/earliness of the hour, take your pick. And I read that back, as I am wont to do (who the Hell says “wont” in 2007?) I find two things- I am starting to use slashes about as indiscriminately as I do parentheses, for which I apologize in advance, and that this paragraph needs to be edited. Which I am not going to do. I tend to feel that everything I write needs and editor, if for no other reason than to say “what the fuck is wrong with you?” and I refuse to bother. Oh- another thing: I am dropping the F-bomb like the Taliban blowing up civilians in the Mid-East . Blame it on the hour.

            And you, Mr. and/or Mrs. (see?) Astute Reader, may have spotted another thing. (Or two. One of which is that I am starting sentences, yay,  and paragraphs too, with “and.” I have two things to say about that. One- shut up. Two- what about the “yay” semi-faux Elizabethan dialect? I dunno. Did I mention I started this at 3 am?) Like I was saying before I digressed, (take that, Liz), I said that Mr. and/or Mrs. Astute Reader, who celebrate their 18th wedding anniversary next month, may have noticed something. I then digressed, (again, take that, Liz), and I am now going to reveal what the aforementioned eagle-eyed Astute Reader couple, Charles and Gladys, father of Libby and Roy, owner of Shep the unimaginatively-named sheepdog, have spotted: I am indenting.

            Oh, it is not unheard of for me to indent. Indeed, there is an example of it at the beginning of this paragraph. But my blogs have an internal logic. (“Yeah, yeah,” you say. “I’ve read this shit. Unless it has to do with a big ape or some knob I don’t see any logic.” You also say some other nastier things that I won’t print here in order to save your reputation. But to one of you will remain nameless, I say- just name the time and place.) Ooooookaaaaay…… back to internal logic. I have some. I won’t reveal it all, a good magician must retain his aura of mystery, but I will tell you this much- it is an art of distraction. Watch the hand that isn’t waving the wand. Oh, jeez, sorry, that’s magic. I was going to tell you about my blogs.

          (Another indent, and more parentheses, man am I on a stupid roll. I can smell a slash coming up soon!) When I indent, I am, generally, drum roll please, (a lot of commas here), writing a bit more seriously than usual. Another hint is the general lack of capital letters in the subject. Which I haven’t written yet. So we’ll see. “But,” you cry, “this isn’t serious at all. You’re wasting my time again. Why do you write this shit?” I think the better question is “Why do you read this shit?” I know that the attraction for the ladies is obvious, but the must be something more.

             Let’s take a look at my friends list, for that is where the trouble lie. (Again with the formal syntax? (And didn’t I promise a slash a while back?)) (That double parenthesis back there is no mistake- go back and see.) A caveat here- the order that my friends are in is not really any indication of where you rank. Some of it is, some of it isn’t. Don’t sweat it, it doesn’t matter. Another caveat- one of my friends may not actually be a friend and may actually be a fictional creation. I’ll leave it to you figure it out, but I’ll give you a hint- she’s a looker!

            So you’ve looked at my list, guessed who isn’t real, wondered why there are so few, and come back here. Personally, I wouldn’t have bothered. Anyway, what could be the problem here, you wonder. I know you’re wondering. I can smell it. Well, it isn’t so much a problem as some situations. Specifically three/four situations. (That slash is perfectly accurate. It may look like I threw it in like I always do, but not here. That one is scary accurate.

             Now there are six people, three/four situations, and you are one of my friends. Logic dictates (sound like Spock here) that the odds of you being one of the situations is pretty good- you have a 4/6 chance of it being you. (Is that right? Did I get the odds right? I can reduce that down to 2/3 chance, right?) Well, to quote a movie quote- never tell me the odds. (First one to name the movie and character wins. I’ll come up with a prize later.) But I can reduce the odds. Ignoring the fictional friend, and some may consider me a fictional friend, not everybody reads this. Out of six, I think only four read my stuff. And out of the four, one of you falls in the odds-defying category of not having a situation. Figure out the odds yourself. ‘Cause I sure can’t. And hey- paragraphs are getting shorter here on page two. It’s very nice here in page two land. Page Two’sville, I think I’ll call it. But since I wrote this in Word and Myspace doesn’t have pages here this’ll just be more nonsense but trust me- it made some kind of sense when I wrote it. Time check- 4:01 am, and man can you tell how late and/or early this is.

              I’m not going to do it, by the way. You think I will, but I won’t. you even expect it. But I won’t Uh uh, not me. (That last, by the way, was a quote from Paulie to Henry in Goodfellas, my favorite movie ever this month.) I am not, and I will remain steadfast, I really will, not explain the situations. It wouldn’t be fair. Sure, I could say that one of the situations involves some steamy, kinky sex with a friend, but what good would that do? Besides, it isn’t true, dammit. (But I bet it pricked you up when you read that.) No, seriously, there is no reason to air dirty, or clean for that matter, laundry in semi-public. Suffice it to say that these things are on my mind.

             I just reread this and man, I spent an hour on this. A whole friggin’ hour. You probably won’t take more than a few minutes reading this shit. The fewer the better. The smart move is to just delete this and try to sleep. I really should. Time check- 4:11 am. I wrote nearly two pages to get you up to the climax, which was the last paragraph, and all I really did when you got there was fart in your faces. One can only hope that, as Odysseus found out, it is the journey, not the destination. (And was Odysseus pissed about that journey. Away from home for twenty years, fighting a war for ten, lost at sea for ten, all of his friends dead, his mother killed by her own hand, his son grown up without him, his kingdom looted, his skin parched by the sun and no good souvlaki anywhere.) So blame it all on the lateness/earliness of the hour. I don’t know what I’m doing. As opposed to all the times I do know what I am doing and the blogs still come out this way.

             BTW, or by the way, use whichever one you like, it’s all the same to me, I never use that thing at the bottom to say what I’m reading or whatever. I just picked that book up today and since it sounds all literary-like I thought I’d put it on. If the book sucks I’ll let you know.



            Time check- 4:22 am.

Knobs for Noobs

11 Nov

from July 13, 2007

Some of you may know that for the past two weeks I have been on a quest to replace an air-conditioner knob.

I woke up one morning and, bleary-eyed and wobbly, I wandered over to the a/c to turn it off. My a/c has two knobs- one to turn it on or off and control the fan strength, and another to control the temperature. To turn off the a/c I needed to turn the leftmost knob to the right. I grabbed the rightmost knob, which was already as far right as it would go. “Uh,” I thought. Somehow the thought went through my mind that it must be stuck. So I used all of my sleepy, weary strength to turn it to the right. The shaft of the knob crumbled and the knob came off in my hand. “Uh,” I thought, and went back to bed with the knob laying on the floor.

I reawaked a few hours later, very cold. I was sure I turned of the a/c, didn’t I? So when I found the broken knob a few things came to mind: “Uh?” and “Was that what I did this morning?”

This wasn’t the important knob- the a/c was already at full temp. I didn’t need it to turn it on or off. But I broke it and it needed to be fixed.

My first thought was to fix the knob. I know how to do this. I had the knob and the two broken pieces (one had to be fished out of the a/c’s frame.) I took some modeling putty and filled the stem. I put a toothpick in the middle to use as a handle. After the putty hardened a bit I smoothed it on the outside and placed the broken pieces on top. The putty would act as a base to properly place the broken pieces in the correct position. I then used Testors modeling glue to adhere the pieces back into place. After a few hours drying time I brushed a thin layer of epoxy on the outside of the stem. The next day after it was dry I gently pulled the putty out of the knob, using the toothpick, being careful not to put any stress on the newly-solid knob. The knob looked good. I took and x-acto knife to scrape out any loose putty and trim an edge of rough glue and it was done.

I waited another day to let it totally dry and solidify and then I slowly placed it back on the metal piece sticking out of the a/c. It fit snugly. Deep breath. Now the test. I turned it, gingerly, to the left. Didn’t move. I used a little more strength, a little more, there it goes- snap! It crumbled in my hand. “Uh.”

So my next step was to buy a replacement knob. My first stop was Home Depot. I know that store well. We had tangled in the past. Despite owning the reputation of having everything anyone could possibly need to put in a tub, sod a lawn, or furnish a castle, I had trouble there a few years back finding some hex screws. On another occasion I could not buy their advertised drill because, as explained by an associate, “it doesn’t exist.”  My father’s battles with their Mill Basin store are legendary, with them actually encouraging, no, forcing him to shoplift. I went there with low expectations.

My first stop was their furniture knob and handle section. They didn’t have what I wanted, but I wasn’t expecting to find it there, it was just a short detour on the way to the appliances section. They had a lot models of a/c, and filters galore, but no replacement knobs. I went to the electrical area with, frankly, little hope. I was right, no knob. My next move was going to be very logical. I was going to snag a knob from one of their floor models.

That isn’t shoplifting- I had the broken knob in my pocket and I was just going to make a switch. Floor models get treated rough any way. Knobs break all the time. I was really just correcting a mistake- this floor model should have a broken knob. And since I should have a new knob, this was a win-win move. Karma.

Or not, since all the floor models were either A- missing knobs or B- digital and didn’t have knobs to begin with. So I left Home Depot.

Home Depot is for poseurs anyway. Real guys go to their local hardware stores. A good hardware store will have anything- Japanese ball joints, metric window screens, socket wrenches with unusual flanges, and those little things that let you stick a polarized plug into a non-polarized outlet and risk a deadly fire. I knew a good hardware store on Cropsey Avenue. They’d have it.

No they didn’t. The store had new owners. It still looked like a good hardware store, but I don’t think much of hardware stores that also sell needlepoint kits and yarn.

Boro Park. Home to dozens of little independent electronic stores. Many of them are the ones always being investigated by channel 2 or channel 5 news for selling rebuilt products as new. I’d shopped there before. They’d sell their shoes if you made the right offer. Those stores are actually pretty good if you know how they operate and what you are looking for. I’d find the knob there.

Out of three stores, I found one guy who was willing to sell me the knob from the air conditioner sitting on a shelf, under a gray-market CD player and a layer of dust. Clearly, this a/c had been there since the parting of the Red Sea. It was old, it was not going to sell, but the knob matched.

Twenty dollars. He wanted twenty dollars for the knob. I offered five and I knew I was overpaying by $4.65. He didn’t want to haggle, he didn’t want to compromise, he wanted twenty dollars. His reason? Without a knob he would have to sell the a/c for less and maybe not sell it at all- who would want an a/c missing a knob? I pointed out that it looked filthy and wasn’t going to sell at all. He pointed out that it was in good condition. I asked him to plug it in and let’s see. He said that he had his hot plate plugged in and he pointed to it. It was as dusty as the air conditioner. “You cook on that?” “Soon,” he replied.

It was time to reassess my strategy. I was on my way to Elizabeth New Jersey the next day, to shop at Jersey Gardens. I knew that I wouldn’t find the knob there but it was just down the road from IKEA, the Swedish Superstore. Maybe, just maybe…..

IKEA had a ton of build-it yourself bookcases and some tasty Swedish meatballs in their  ultra-clean food court but I left without anything but a “fleurgin,” or a “stzl,” or whatever they called the small set of mugs I bought. I always loved the Swedish Chef on The Muppet Show and I bet he never needed an air conditioner knob.

I was running out of options. Reluctantly, I went online to buy one. This is not how men do things. We men build things, we hunt out replacement parts, we do it ourselves. We don’t buy stuff online unless it is 35% off and free shipping from Amazon. But I didn’t have anything else to do.

The GE website had it. It was $3. This wasn’t so bad. After all, I already offered a guy five. What got me was the shipping- $3.95. It was more than the knob! I would rather go and pick it up myself from wherever they are than spend that. It isn’t the money, it is the principle. That is just a rip-off. Well, I had to order it, and to be smart I ordered two. This knob weighs a couple of ounces. Shipping for one was $3.95. To stick another in the box and ship two cost $5.95. Two dollars more! The knobs were $6 and the shipping was another $6, so two knobs cost me $12. What a racket GE has going.

They came about four days later in a giant envelope that could have easily contained thirty or forty of these things. I am sure that the envelope weighed more than the knobs. OK, it was a padded envelope, but $6 for that? And to add insult to injury the website said they would ship FedEx but the regular mailman brought them. So the actual shipping cost about $1.80 for postage and 98 cents for the envelope.

So know I had the knob, but something wasn’t quite right. It was about 1/16th of an inch too big. Not a lot, just enough to be noticeable. It also had a small dot molded into the face. The original knob did too, but this dot was painted black and the original was unpainted. Not a big deal, but just enough to bug me.

But when I put it on it fit snugly and turned like a dream.

The extra knob is safely in my toolbox.

There is a lesson here. Something about perseverance, or maybe something about technology and obsolescence. Perhaps there is a moral here about big business.

I just think that when you read this you’ll realize that I had a lot of time on my hands and nothing better to do.

But bottom line- I got the knob.

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